County of Navarro
State of Texas 1872-1986
Researched by Ida May
Originally published in "The Navarro County Scroll", 1986
Reprinted with permission of the Navarro County Historical Society
Long before the Township of Rice was
located on a Theodore Kosse map, Indians roamed this area in North Navarro
County. The Navarro County Scroll of 1984 lists the Tehuacana and Cherokee
tribes here in 1838. The Cherokees, befriended by Sam Houston, and the
Nakoni Comanches were recorded as being in the vicinity also. The
migratory Caddo, Lipan Apache, Wichita, Kickapoos, Creek, Kiowas, Penatekas,
Tonkawa tribes were known to be in this central area of Texas. In order to
prevent the flow of Anglo-settlers, the Mexican government gave BOWL, a great
Indian war lord, a grant of land between Dallas and Houston. Spain also
gave lands between the Sabine and Trinity Rivers to the Choctaw, Cherokee and
Alabama-Coushatta tribes after the signing of the Louisiana Purchase Treaty for
the same reason. Apparent peace came to the area when the Tehuacana and
their allies met with Edward H. Tarrant and George W. Terrell on the Trinity
River at Bird's Fort on March 31, 1843, and agreed that hostilities should cease
between the indians and the white men. Finally forts along the frontier,
Texas Rangers, armies of frantic civilians, the military and the establishment
of Indian Reservations eased the Indian problems in Central Texas.
The Texas Frontier, that region where
civilians touched hands with savagery, had a long and eventful history. No
other state was subject to the influence for so long a time. Then came the
railroads, laying out towns to suit their convenience. After them
came farmers who, within a few years or even months, changed the way of life.
The dream of Colonel Robert H. Porter,
who had hopes of making Porter's Bluff one of the largest cities in Texas,
probably the state's capital in 1846, was never realized. It was on
the old Indian crossing on the Trinity that Porter had the area surveyed and
gave it the name of Taos. Small packet boats ran the Trinity
regularly. However over half of the town was destroyed by the great
flood in 1866 and never rebuilt Some of the first settlers and prominent
citizens of Rice moved from the Taos-Chatfield-Porter's Bluff area in the early
1860's and 1870's. It was at this time, March 20, 1870, that Texas was
re-admitted to the Union. The move of the earlier pioneers was prompted
not only by the great flood at Porter's Bluff but also the newly completed H. T.
& C. Railroad and the establishment of a Post Office in Rice in 1872.
Rice, so named for William Marsh Rice
whose interests formerly agreed to the transaction of 500 acres of land which
later became the Township of Rice, Texas, Navarro County from the R. C. Neblett
Estate on March 22, 1868. (The original Railroad Reservation was on the
Robert S. Scott survey on 3rd. CI Certificate which was owned by Robert H.
Porter, the land being patented by his widow, Frances E. Porter Tate, 20 May,
1957.) The Warranty Deed was dated March 22, 1872, and recorded in Deed
Records of Navarro County Courthouse on April 19, 1872. The
transaction was consummated for $2,000. The Deed of Dedication, Town of
Rice, was filed July 29, A. D. 1872, at 3 P.M. with "Attaching plot of a
Revised Map of the Township of Rice.
In 1848 the Galveston and Red River
Railroad was incorporated with the intention of crossing Texas from north to
south. Because of its size and vast distances, Texas was a natural for
railroad building. Paul Bremond, William Marsh Rice, Cornelius Ennis and
W. J. Hutchins, Houston merchants, persuaded the legislature to authorize a
change in the Charter permitting the road to start at Houston. They took
over the Charter in 1856 and renamed this reorganized railroad the Houston and
Texas Central (H. & T. C.). By 1860 the road reached Millican when the
outbreak of the Civil War halted further construction. The H. & T. C.
was the first railroad company to resume building after the Civil War ended.
It reached Corsicana in 1871 and Dallas in 1872.
The Cotton Belt System, originated in
1871 with the Tyler Tap Railroad crossing the H. & T. C. in Corsicana in
1881. Alexander Beaton, an Attorney of Corsicana, was named Chairman for a
Committee to locate the H. & T. C. in Corsicana and was successful in
negotiating the crossing of the Tyler Tap Railroad with the H. & T. C. in
Corsicana as well. The T. T. R. became known as the Cotton Belt line.
The decision to route the T. T. R. through Corsicana and on to Hillsboro instead
of the Porter's Bluff route caused William M. Rice's and Colonel Robert H.
Porter's dream of a railroad terminus in the Township of Rice to be shattered.
It was the dream of creative enterprise and of high hopes of future greatness.
Wm. M. Rice's interest in a Township, surveyed originally by Thomas Jefferson
Chambers in 1834, mapped by Theodore Kosse in 1868, named in his (Rice) honor,
By now, Wm. M. Rice whose worth was
$3,000,000, turned his railroad interests over to his brother, Frederick A. Rice
and business associates Abram Groesbeck and W. R. Baker, moved to New York City
where he remained until his death.
By 1873 the State of Texas gave away
millions of acres for railroad construction. The U. S. Government
helped railroad builders by granting alternate sections of land along the right
of way. The rationale was that it promoted settlement of the western
portion of the United States. Edmund J. Davis, Reconstruction Governor of
Texas, granted the builders $10,000 a mile, twenty sections of land (some
historians say sixteen sections) and tax exemptions for twenty-five years.
This act was a contradiction of the Constitution of 1869. The
Southern Pacific became a newly re-organized railroad on April 12, 1893, by
consolidating with the major link of the H. & T. C. This was the
railroad that reached into the heartland of Central Texas.
The (H. & T. C.) Southern Pacific
served Rice well. It was the central shipping point where baled cotton
stacked high on the loading platforms awaited shipment by rail to distant
markets. The "Station" was the scene of freight train flat cars
(gondolas) stopping to pick up any and/or all volunteers in 1898 for Teddy
Roosevelt's "Rough Riders" to board. It was also the scene of
the Liberty Bell viewing when it toured the nation to promote "Liberty
Bonds" in W. W. I. This same station blew the thrilling
hair-raising, shrill steam whistle announcing to Rice that W. W. I. had ended.
People miles away attest to hearing this most welcome news. And at this
same station, our "Dough Boys" were met by happy families who were
home at last after the wars end.
Freeman Brown delivered and picked up
the mail sacks for the Rice Post Office at this station for many years.
Then in 1912 the Dallas-Corsicana division of the Texas Electric Railway system
was completed to Rice. This Electric Railway carried both passengers and
freight until it was terminated in 1935. Modern IH 75 with 4 lanes of
divided thoroughfare carrying autos, trucks and buses later became IH 45,
completed the North-South transportation routes through Rice.
The earliest white settlers came to the
Rice area before the 1860s.
Isaac Sessions, born in 1817 in North
Carolina, came to Navarro County settling north of Rice in 1846. He was
one of the organizers of the County, served as foreman of the first Grand Jury
in the County, and was Justice of the Peace at Porter's Bluff. He also
served as County Commissioner several years. Mr. Sessions was an organizer
and faithful member of the Methodist Church and was a member of the Rice Masonic
Lodge, No. 577.
Joseph Calloway Bartlett, son of Jesse
Bartlett of Stephen F. Austin's Colony, was born on August 7, 1814, in
Tennessee. On the 18th day of June, A. D. 1836, he enlisted as a private
soldier and served in the Quartermaster Corps until his honorable discharge
during the Revolution (war) which separated Texas from Mexico. After his
honorable discharge, he returned to Chatfield and was elected Justice of Peace.
He later moved to Rice and became the first Postmaster there in 1872. He
is buried beside his wife in the Rice Cemetery.
Burwell Edmundson, son of Wright
Edmundson, was born near Huntsville on January 27, 1842, and later moved with
his family near Chatfield in Navarro County. In the 1860's, the family
lived between Chatfield and Porters's Bluff when Burwell enlisted in the
Confederate Army and served as Cpl. of Texas Infantry, C. S. A., with Waul's
Legion. In 1871, Burwell moved his family west of Rice. In
1894, Burwell and his family moved inside the city limits of Rice and resided
there the remainder of his life. He is buried in the Rice Cemetery
beside his wife.
Nathan Fitzgerald, a Civil War veteran,
served in Robert E. Lee's Army. He moved his family to the Rice area about
1870. Two of his sons became Gospel Preachers. Nathan built
"The Fitzgerald Chapel" where his family and neighbors of the
community worshipped. His son, Will, born in Mississippi in 1867, became a
Rice merchant. He built his home in Rice in 1916 after moving his family
from the old "home place" that has been in the Fitzgerald family for
83 years (1977). Both Nathan and his brother, A. M. Fitzgerald,
served in the Confederate Army and both are buried beside their families in the
The brothers, John B. Haynie, Lewis B.
Haynie and William D. Haynie, were early settlers in the Rice Community at the
close of the Civil War. All three were successful in the business world
and became very large land owners, cattle and livestockmen, gin owners, and
banking interests. The Wm. D. Haynie family was well known for their
philanthropic endeavors. The Haynie Memorial Church at Rice, the Southern
Methodist University of Dallas and the Methodist Hospital at Ft. Worth
received their more liberal contributions. Educational and religious
institutions held their enthusiastic interest throughout their lifetime.
They gave to every worthy cause and remained public spirited citizens of the
town of Rice and also of Navarro County. Their greatest delight came from
helping others. All three of the brothers and their wives are buried in
the Rice Cemetery.
The Clopton's, John A. and B. M.,
figured prominently in the early recorded business transactions and civic
endeavors of Rice. They helped organize the Methodist Church in 1874 and
served faithfully during their lifetime in many worthwhile projects.
John A. established one of Rice's earliest drug stores. Their names are
listed in the Wm. M. Rice Papers, Town Lots & Real-estate, Town Lot Property
Charles Lockhart settled 10 miles north
of Corsicana in 1854 on the Rice, Tupelo, Chatfield road. Lucian Lockhart
was also one of the early pioneer settlers. The Langhams, Ben and
Rufus M. Mayor Rose, Rev. Jerry A. Ward, William M. Holmes, Jim Mitchen, J. D.
Greenwood, John Quinn, M. C. Dunn, H. M. Lockwood, Abner Bell, M. N. Burgess,
Mrs. Mary J. Fisher, Mr. S. C. Alford, Mrs. J. Minnie Haynie, Christian Moschel,
W. P. Watt are listed in the Wm. Rice Town Lot Property Books between 1870 to
1878, as purchasing acreage in Rice City limits.
Jesse Marshall Bartlett, son of Joseph
Calloway Bartlett, grandson of Jesse Bartlett of Austin Colony Pioneers, was
born December 29, 1841, in Brenham, Washington County, Texas. In
1845, he moved with his family to Porter's Bluff. When the Civil War began
he volunteered in the cause of the Confederacy and served until its termination
in Parson's Brigade attaining the rank of Captain. In 1871 he and his
bride, Mollie Hester Clopton, moved to Rice. He helped organize the
first bank, Bartlett & Haynie, in Rice. His cotton gin, powered by
mules, was one of Rice's earliest gins. He had extensive land holdings,
engaged in stock raising and the mercantile business. He was a lifetime
member and an organizer of the Methodist Church in 1874. He was a
Charter and life member of the Masonic Lodge. His career as a business and
civic leader was well known. He is buried beside his wife in the Rice
Egbert A. Sessions, son of Isaac B.
Sessions, was born in Mississippi, November 10, 1840, and when five years of age
came with his parents to Texas. He enlisted in the Confederate service in
June 1861, in Company I, under Captain Winkler, of the Fourth Texas Infantry,
Hood's Brigade. At an early age, he had bought land on credit improved it
and put a great portion under cultivation. Mr. Sessions was active in
establishing the Methodist Church, was a Master Mason, and supported all the
civic endeavors in the Rice Community. Mr. Sessions is buried beside his
wife in the Rice Cemetery.
The successful business partnership of
two brothers, Joe and John T. Fortson, was almost without parallel in the Rice
Community. Their extensive agricultural, ranching, mercantile and banking
interest was accomplished through effort and ingenuity. The Navarro
Co. Levee Improvement Districts 10 and 11 was formed under their supervision.
Banking interest occupied a great portion of their time. They organized
the present Rice-First State Bank and owned stock in the Corsicana National Bank
which consolidated later with the First National Bank in 1931. The Wm. M.
Rice Town Lot Property books lists Fortson Bros. acquiring entire city blocks
and/or sections in 1897 - '98 - and '99 from the Wm. M. Rice interests.
Their estates have continued to maintain their vast holdings. The younger
brother J. Thomas, served as manager of the Fortson Bros. grocery business and
also actively engaged in agricultural pursuits on his land holdings.
The better known pioneer Medical Doctors
of Rice were: Dr. J. A. McGee and Dr. Melton who came in 1877, Dr. Hugh Sloan
began his practice in 1884, and Dr. Jim Tolleson who came to Rice in the early
1900s. Their unselfish devotion to the needs of the community is
gratefully acknowledged. Equal recognition is given to the memory of Mrs.
Myrtle Meadows whose skilled nursing and caring for the needs of a vast area not
only of Rice but Navarro County as well. The most celebrated veterinarian
of Navarro County who served the Rice Area was Dr. Will Coleman, Sr., born in
Chatfield who moved to Corsicana after receiving his Medical Degree to establish
his long years of successful veterinary practice in Navarro County.
The earliest Postmaster of Rice, Joseph
Calloway Bartlett, was appointed Oct. 2, 1872, and served until L. B. Haynie
became Postmaster. He was succeeded by Wm. M. Holmes, November 23, 1875.
The following served in terms of various lengths: James W. Norris, Sept. 27,
1876; James T. Slade, May 3, 1882; Wm. H. Todd, September 5, 1887; James B.
Slade, April 24, 1889; Rufus M. Langham, September 29, 1897; Joseph W. Holland,
July 6, 1909; Verna King Harper, November 16, 1914 to September 5, 1918; Tilmon
Y. Allen, February 6, 1923, to January 25, 1927; Abraham H. Coulter, December
31, 1927; Claudia M. Starnes, June 19, 1929; Verna Gregory, Alice Dillard and
Therese M. Dempsey are the last three postmistresses. Rural carriers were:
Arthur Jack Lemmon, J. T. Allen, Bob Mahaley, R. D. Crider and Bobby
Derden. Henry M. Swafford retired in 1976 as Clerk having served since
1959. Patricia Tumey and Mrs. N. E. McCasslin are the most recent clerks.
The myth of King Cotton symbolized in
the minds of Texas planters the supremacy of that staple. Thus the cotton
farmer was cast in the role of servitor rather than master of his principal
crop. The geography of the Texas Blacklands went far to shape the economy
of Rice and to sustain many generations to the single crop system. One of
the earliest industries in Rice was naturally the ginning of cotton. J. M.
Bartlett, W. D. Haynie and J. A. Ward, S. C. Alford, W. P. Watt, Wm. M. Holmes
were the earliest known gin owners and/or ginners. Fortson Bros.,
Granville Rutherford and H. C. Noel were the more recent gin owners.
Cotton was the major crop not only in Rice and Navarro County but remained the
main cash crop of Texas, and Texas was the leading cotton producing state in
1950. Before the coming of the railroad, cotton was floated from Porter's
Bluff down the Trinity River to the steam compresses and markets in Houston and
Galveston. The disastrous market season of 1921 was a shattering blow to
the old way of life of the cotton farmer. The early recession of the
1920's gave momentum to a revolution started by the coming of the Mexican boll
weevil and the federal governments' control program which cut acreage in half.
Rice cotton farmers had prospered before
the 1920's. The growing of cotton in Rice had supported 4 cotton gins, 3
banks, 4 drugstores, a lumber yard, 2 hotels, a leather and shoe repair shop, a
jewelry store, an insurance agency, 8 grocery stores, 2 dry goods stores (one
with a millinery department), a movie theater a Ford agency, several filling
stations, an ice house, 2 barber shops, a variety store, an undertaker, a
cabinet maker shop, bee keepers, a grist and syrup mill, a newspaper, a meat
market, 3 cafes, one barbecue cafe run by Sam, 3 blacksmiths, a tailor shop, a
feed store, a telephone exchange, several cotton buyers, and at least 2 contract
cotton haulers all represented in the cultural and economic mosaic forming the
township of Rice.
The Rice cotton farmer was bound to the
only marketable commodity he knew. The average farmer had to borrow money
to live, and to put in a crop. The risk was putting "all his eggs in
one basket" --- a basket could be upset by the weather, the boil weevil,
internal and external social forces all of which bore on the plight of the one
crop cotton farmer. But that day was slowly passing.
The cotton farmers income fell. He
could not quit his farm, even had he been willing to. He had no money to
go elsewhere. By 1936 under the Soil Conservation and Allotment Act,
cotton farmers continued to receive grants from the U. S. government provided
they continued to divert from the growing of staples on a part of their lands
and practiced such measures as terracing, fertilizing and planting leguminous
When Cotton was King, Rice merchants
promoted "Trades Day". Always on Saturdays when an entire
community "came to town." Calhoun and Dallas streets in the
business section were crowded to capacity. "Everyone" was there
for the Saturday afternoon drawings. Tickets were given by the merchants
for purchases paid for in cash. Hamilton Hawkins won a Ford automobile on
a ticket given by Tull Irwin for a 25 cent haircut. Many $5, $10, and $50
prizes were given to the eager holders of lucky tickets. No one doubted in
those days in Rice that Cotton was King.
The lure of the culture of Cotton and
the easy access to the rail line produced a one time thriving business community
Beginning at the (H. & T. C.)
Southern Pacific Railroad station and loading platforms the following Rice
businesses had their beginnings:
West of the (H. & T. C.) S. P.
Railroad station and tracks the Texas Electric Railway station, platform, and
tracks paralleled the rail line through the city limits. On the
southeast side of ("Main") Calhoun Street were the railroad loading
platforms. Across the alley was the 2 story red brick building housing the
Gatlin Hotel on the upper floor and the Joe Holland family's Variety Store.
Next door was the home of the town newspaper, The Rice Rustler, when it was in
publication. East of the 2 story red brick hotel building was the Rice Lumber
yard, managed by Balfour Clark. The Crawford family owned and operated a
leather and shoe repair shop next to the lumber yard. A one story brick
building on the south east corner of block #18 was the location of Sid Brewer's
jewelry store and later John Sloan's insurance agency. The
"Doc" Hull house was directly behind this building.
Block #44 began with the Zack Moore
grocery. Next door was the Knox garage and filling station by the side of
Will Hodge's blacksmith shop. Going south on Dallas street the on e time
telephone exchange was operated many years by Mrs. Pearl Long. Block #46 was and
is the site of the First Baptist Church in Rice. It was organized in 1875.
The Deacons, T. H. Wear, T. P. Durisoe and Thos H. Bowden purchased lots #15,
16, 17, 18, 19, and 20 on December 28, 1907, and Oct. 1, 1908 from the Wm. M.
Rice interests. The parsonage is east of the sanctuary.
The XXth Century Club building facing
north on Calhoun is located beside the site of the old (Methodist Church)
Masonic Hall and Church of Christ building. The area now is the location
of the City Hall and Fire Station. Doster's antique shop is on the corner
facing the highway; Crum's grocery is next door; the car wash and trailer park
face the service road on IH 45 to complete the block. In the next block is
the Mini-mart and service station. Bud Braddock and Luther Murff operated
a service station near this location. A large Trailer Park is south of
this block on the west side of the feeder road of IH 45.
John Bradley's Feed Store was converted
from the old Walter Harper Feed Store and Post Office when Verna King Harper was
Postmistress. Fortson Bros. grocery and office, across the street, occupy
what was once Jesse Marshall Bartlett's grocery and mercantile building.
Goring north and facing the railroad tracks was the Thomas H. Wear blacksmith
shop and nearby was the J. Q. Travis blacksmith shop also. Fortson Bros.
gin, office and seed house occupy the block next to the railroad right-of-way.
East of Fortson Bros. grocery on Calhoun
was the Loula Queen and Tom Queen Dry goods. Next door to Westphal's
grocery was the Will Hodge cabinet shop and the Pool Hall then a laundry, a
barber shop owned by Tull Irwin and Lonnie Williams. At one time this
building housed one of Rice's earliest banks, John Sloan's Insurance agency, and
later the Rice Post office. Across the alley was the George B. Simpson
Drug Store. Next door was the Joe Harper Grocery and later the
location of Clarence Mahaley's grocery. Tull Irwin had a barber shop here
in earlier years and Jeff Spencer and Jim Hobbs operated a Deli and a Cafe east
of Mahaley's grocery. A. Raymond Jackson had the corner grocery on the
corner of Dallas (n.) and Calhoun.
Across Dallas Street on the east side
was the two story brick building of the Loop and Walker grocery, mercantile,
implement store. There was a ladies millinery department on the second
floor Upstairs (next door) were the offices of Dr.s. J. T. Carter and O. C.
Bowmer. The telephone exchange owned by the Hall family was also located
here. Completing block #43 facing south was the old white two-story
wooden hotel (boarding house) operated first by Ed. Taber on the upper floor and
L. B. Haynie operated a general store on the lower floor. Wm. M. Holmes
was known to have a store across the street. Mr. Holmes was to later serve
as Postmaster and ginner. Somewhere in the vicinity B. M. Clopton had a
drug store and Dr. J. A. McGee operated a drug store nearby. The Chenault
family "ran" the old wood hotel at a later date.
Steve Bell and Jesse Gatlin owned and
operated a tailor shop north of the Loop and Walker store. Lonnie Williams
moved his barber shop to this location. Johnny Spencer had his meat market
next door. The Rice Post Office and Mayor's office is now on the north
east corner of block #43. At one time a bank was in this location.
Across the alley is the location of the
early Charlie Allen drug store where school children bought their yearly supply
of text books. This building became the home of the First State Bank.
It is now the office of the City Water Department. The only movie theater
ever to be located in Rice was next door. The cost of admission was 10
cents. McKay and McLauren owned and operated the Ford agency next door to
the T. W. Neal and E. E. Hobb's grocery. S. L. Hobbs had a Mobil
station and garage on the corner which Chess Hobbs ran for years. Directly
across the street north of A. Raymond Jackson's grocery was the Newt Bell Cafe
later to be used for a meeting house for a religious congregation.
Fitzgerald's grocery and Florence Cassel's Ice House were on the corner.
Behind what is now a telephone sub-station was a barbecue cafe owned and
operated by a colored gentleman named Sam (?). It was probably the only
business operated by a colored person on one of Rice's "Main" Streets.
Block #42 was the original location of
the 1874 Methodist Church, and public school. The old building became
later the Masonic Hall on Calhoun Street. The first church was organized
by the families of J. B. Bartlett, J. A. and B. M. Clopton, W. D. and L. B.
Haynie, Wm. M. Holmes, J. M. Mitchem, Isaac B. and E. G. Sessions, and J. A.
Ward. The site was donated. The new Haynie Memorial Church was and
is a landmark in Rice. The red brick edifice with its beautiful stained
glass windows are un surpassed. The new building built in 1908 and
dedicated in 1909 is served and supported by the descendants of the pioneer
Block #69 has the former Floyd Clark,
and later Brewer's service station is now the site of a fruit stand and country
market. Block #70 facing the highway is the new location of the First
State Bank. The names of Baron and Olive South and Claude Hervey, Sr., are
associated many years with the bank. In 1968, Ronald Cavender
accepted the position of President with Mrs. Mariella Ellington as Cashier and
Mrs. Opal Wear as Assistant Cashier.
Further north on IH 45 are the Bar-B-Que
Hut, Taylor Feed Store, Tractor Trailer repair shop, and bottle shop.
Nearby is the Wet Spot and Stuckey's.
On the east side of IH 45 south to North
is the White Way cafe, Mobil Service Station, the site of the John Sloan Blue
Haven Cafe, on either side of which was the Texaco Service station operated by
Benjamin Bartlett and a Magnolia Service station operated by Forrest Blount.
Rutherford's gin was east of the Blue Haven and Rod Bartlett owned and operated
a cotton yard between the gin and Dr. Hugh Sloan's home. H. C. Noel's gin
was on the same side of the highway north of the Rutherford gin.
North of the H. C. Noel gin and across
the street on the same side of the highway were the colored Methodist Church and
the present new sanctuary of the Hopewell Baptist Church. Through the
efforts of Ollie Averhart, Jr., Tommie Cooksey, Luby Nolen, Jewel Black,
Clarence Miller, Marvin Little a new sanctuary was dedicated in 1984.
Services are held each Sunday with Rev. Davis as pastor and Tommie Cooksey and
Frank Wilburn serving as Deacons. "Fritz" Joiner, Mason Cooksey
and a Mr. Treadway were the original organizers and deacons.
Block #41 was and is the site of land
donated for a public school. The old three story buff brick school
building was built in 1912 for a cost of $16,000. In 1861-62 a school was
built between Session's home and Porter's Bluff four miles north of Chatfield.
The first school in Rice was opened the first Monday in November, 1875, in the
old Methodist Church building with the Rev. Jerry Ward and wife as teachers.
A new gymnasium was built in 1972 and classes began in the new school building
for the 1977-78 school term.
For recreation Rice's young people
relied on the schools basket ball and baseball teams, both boys and girls.
The girls basket ball team that reached the State Play-offs was composed of
Queena Bartlett, Myrtle Dyer, Mabry Edens, Beatrice Harris, Clara Jackson,
Hallie Kennedy, Lala Miles and Lillie Ribble. The school baseball
team and community baseball teams produced famous pitchers "Lefty"
Ellis and Waynie Rhea Pollan. Wm. Fitzgerald was catcher for both the
school team and community baseball teams, as well as, pitcher Pruitt Dukeminier,
and "Hitters" Hugh South, "Happy Jack" Lemmons, Joe
Swafford, Sherman Miles, J. M. and Benjamin Bartlett. The Rice School
basket ball teams that were acclaimed champions for the boys included: Pruitt
Dukeminier, William Fitzgerald, Hugh A. Lemmons, Marshall Noel, John Parker,
Hugh South and Joe Swafford. All of the Pollan family boys were
participants in all of the athletic events in the school and the community.
A later championship basketball team included Benjamin Bartlett, Forrest Blount,
"Dub" and Richard Lee Medford, Russell Hobbs, and Sherman Miles.
County Meets offered opportunities for further athletic and language arts
For the ladies of Rice there were the
active Ladies Aid Society, later to become the Women's Society for Christian
Services, and now the United Methodist Womens Society for the Methodist Chruch.
The young people had the Epworth League which is now called M. Y. F. The
Baptist ladies had the Missionary Society that is now known as W. M.U. The
young people had the B.Y.P.U. now called R.A.'s and G.A.'s and Acteens.
Going to Sunday School and Church services was both a pleasure and a blessing.
Each denomination attended the services of the other denominations. (Methodist,
Baptist, Church of Christ) always participated in the revivals with equal
fervor. Each denomination had members who sang in the other choirs and/or
played the piano during the revivals. If there was any prejudice for
another's religious preference it was never evident. All beliefs and
doctrines were respected. The ladies had bridge clubs and 42 clubs.
Even quilting bees offered entertainment. Maude Lackey organized a social
club known as the "Dew Drop Inn" where young ladies were
entertained with eats, bridge and sometimes dancing.
The XXth Century Club was organized
November 19, 1919, as a study club to further the intellectual and cultural
pursuits of the ladies of Rice. Organizers, Charter members, and club
officers included the following: MMes., T.Y. Allen, Hiram Bartlett, Joe Bradley,
Henry Cardwell, Homer Cassells, Balfour Clark, Ernest Edmundson, John T. and J.
Thomas Fortson, P.F. Halbert, Joe and Walter Harper, Claude Hervey, Sr., D. M.
Loop, Sherman Miles, Walter Smith, Jim Tolleson. The club remains quite
The Masonic Lodge, the I.O.O.F., the
W.O.W., the Maccabees were fraternal societies for the men of Rice. The
Pool Hall furnished a needed recreational outlet for all the age groups in the
In earlier days, horse racing was a
weekend pastime. All young men rode horses in those days. The race
track was up and down ("Main") Calhoun Street in front of the old
wooden hotel. Years later Walter Harper owned a race horse and raced in
the Texas Sulky races. His practice track was between the J. T. Mahaley
and Jess Pollan farms on the old Chatfield road. Louis Treadway was
The Rice Cemetery Association of Navarro
County, Texas grew out of the involvement in the Rice improvement Club.
More interest and more members were needed to strengthen both clubs. Mrs.
Minnie Swafford was elected as its first President on March 15, 1954. John
Bowden was elected Vice-President, Mrs. Viola Miles was elected Secretary.
The Association has grown and a genuine interest is shown in the improvement,
up-keep and financial support. The Cemetery is plotted and lots are being
sold only to Rice citizens, former Rice Citizens and/or relatives of said Rice
citizens. The first Sunday in June is the designated date of the annual
Since its inception the Township of Rice
has had a Mayor. Mayor Rose is the first known recorded mayor (official).
On the second day of December, 1912, an election was held in Rice in which a
majority voted to incorporate. The first duly elected officials were J. W.
South, Mayor. D. M. Loop, A. W. Christian and P. F. Halbert were elected
alderman. In the 1977 City election Jean Foust, Rice's first woman mayor,
was elected and presently serves in that capacity. City Secretary is
Theresa Wommach. City Councilmen are: J. T. Allen, Joe B. Fortson, Jr.,
Jerry Herring, Nancy Montgomery, and Dorothy Rawlings. Bob Davis has also
served recently on the council.
"The values our Ancestors,
forefathers and community leaders knew and understood was that anything of value
is measured by the amount of your life that you have given for it."
To endow the succeeding generations with a unique heritage is to consider some
of the intangible gifts which require considerable hours spend during ones
lifetime. Examples of these, their gifts to us are: wisdom, inner harmony,
abilities to make important choices, care for loved ones, cultivation of
friendship, teaching others and the development of confidence in knowing one's
work is well done. These were the values and gifts our forefathers of Rice
Texas left us. They left a legacy of extending their deeds of love, a
willingness to sacrifice, a knowledge of tasks achieved, and when they gave,
they gave themselves! We can do no less.
(Footnotes and Bibliography appear in the